England lived up to their potential to reach the UEFA Nations League semi-finals, getting out of a group consisting of the mighty Spain and World Cup 2018 runners-up Croatia. They did so by coming from behind and defeating the latter with a scoreline of 2-1 at a joyous Wembley.
In a game where permutations and probabilities were aplenty, one equation was simple; if either side won, they advanced to the last four. Andrej Kramaric gave the visitors a lead against the run of play around the hour mark. It left the Three Lions with a tough job of needing to scoring twice. Failure to do so would lead to relegation.
Gareth Southgate’s men made it happen though, despite not playing their best football. A long Joe Gomez throw fell into the path of Harry Kane, whose stab towards goal was enough to get past Dejan Lovren and find Jesse Lingard, who had a tap-in from barely a yard.
England took the lead five minutes from time when a Ben Chilwell free-kick made its way through to Kane, who did well to prod the ball into the back of the net
Here’s how we rated the Three Lions in the match.
Jordan Pickford - 7
Couldn’t do much to save the goal. His distribution was immaculate, though. Really looks to be settled as England number one.
Kyle Walker - 6
Tried to give England the width but wasn’t really effective. Not his best ever game in a white shirt.
Joe Gomez - 7
The Liverpool man was fairly comfortable throughout the game. Won plenty of aerial duels. His long throw enabled Lingard to level the score.
John Stones - 6
Sold himself short when Kramaric was shooting towards the goal. Other than that, he was comfortable.
Ben Chilwell - 5.5
Got away with one or two defensive lapses. His late free kick brought the winner for the Three Lions.
Eric Dier - 5
Was a steady presence in defensive midfield without really making much of an impact. Could have done better to deny Kramaric’s goal-bound attempt. Looked a bit behind the pace of the game.
Fabian Delph - 8
A surprise selection but the Manchester City man looked fantastic on the ball in midfield. Played a few unbelievable through balls.
Ross Barkley - 6
The Chelsea man tried to make things happen. It worked for him on occasions, however, he tended to dwell on the ball too much, leading to a loss of possession.
Marcus Rashford - 7.5
A genuine threat to the Croatian defence throughout the game. Was denied by a last-ditch tackle by Sime Vrsaljko mid-way through the game. His marauding runs at the opposition were eye catching.
Raheem Sterling - 6
Got into some good positions but the final ball or finish was lacking. His pace meant that he was always a threat. Missed one particular chance where he seemed to have too much time to finish.
Harry Kane - 7.5
Missed a great chance in the first half, but assisted and scored in the second half to complete a memorable come back.
(Sub) Dele Alli - 6
Added a bit of energy to a rather flat team as he made some excellent runs in behind the Croatian defence.
(Sub) Jadon Sancho - 6
Added a bit more pace and energy to the England front-line.
(Sub) Jesse Lingard - 7
Scored the equaliser, although he could hardly have missed it! He later preserved the win as he cleared a Domagoj Vida header off the line.